Help us honor the strength and innovation of Caribbean Women! Discover their stories that inspire….
CAMILLE WARDROP ALLEYNE
Camille Wardrop Alleyne is a brilliant aerospace engineer whose accomplishments in that field have been extraordinary. In the highly technical fields of science and engineering where women are in the minority, she has achieved against all odds, being one of a few women of color and the only woman of Caribbean descent in a senior management position at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The recipient of several recognition awards from NASA, she has played a lead role in the design and development of space vehicles, among them the state-of-the-art Orion crew exploration vehicle. She has also received commendations from the US Department of Defense for her work on its ballistic missile defense system.
Based at the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, USA, Ms Alleyne is the Assistant Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS), which is NASA’s only human space flight program since the closing of the Space Shuttle program. She is responsible for communicating the scientific and technological accomplishments of the ISS and the benefits to life on Earth to the top leadership at NASA, the US Congress, the general public, and scientific, research and educational communities. She also leads an international education task group, which identifies ISS educational activities that can inspire students and attract them to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
Prior to this, Ms Alleyne worked on the Orion project with a team of engineers designing and building the next generation of crew exploration vehicles to replace the current fleet. This new vehicle will have the capability to transport astronauts to destinations beyond Low Earth Orbit such as the moon, asteroids and potentially, Mars. As Manager, Test and Verification, she was responsible for ensuring that the Orion crew and service modules were tested and certified to meet their functional and performance requirements. She was also part of the team that worked on design issues for the crew exploration vehicle cockpit and the integration of the crew module system and subsystems.
Ms Alleyne started her career at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, where she operated and tested the equipment responsible for ensuring ideal environmental conditions for astronauts and cargo in the Space Shuttle. She then took on a lead role in the Constellation Program, managing its architecture requirements and leading the integration of its various engineering systems.
Before joining NASA, she was an aerospace systems engineer with the US Missile Defense Agency and the Department of Defense, where she led analysis and integration of several ballistic missile defense projects. They included the Ground-Based Mid-course Interceptor and Aegis Weapon System. She also co-led the planning and execution of the US Navy’s test that marked the first time an AEGIS ship or any mobile platform tracked a boosting Intercontinental Ballistic Missile into outer space.
Camille Wardrop Alleyne was born on 12th October, 1966 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. She grew up with an innate curiosity about the wonders of space and the workings of airplanes. Her parents nurtured these interests by encouraging her to take things apart and reassemble them. As a child, she would sit on the trunk of her dad’s car, star-gazing and thinking about outer space and how she could get there. Camille attended Mucurapo Girls’ RC School in Trinidad, St. Francois Girls’ College, Trinidad, Howard University, BSc in Mechanical Engineering, Florida A&M University, MSc in Mechanical Engineering (Specialization in Composite Materials), University of Maryland, MSc in Aerospace Engineering (Specialization in Hyper-sonic Aerodynamics and Propulsion).
Dr. FRANCES LOUISE CHANDLER, OBE.
Senator Dr Frances Louise Chandler is Barbados’ first female agronomist, and the first agronomist to serve as Independent Senator. She chose to become an agronomist because she recognized the importance of improving food production and increasing food security in her country.
Dr. Frances attended the Codrington High School and Queen’s college and studied for a degree in Agriculture at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. She later completed a PHD in Crop Science.
She was born on 16th December, 1946 in St Phillip, Barbados. Her father started as a welder in a sugar factory before he was promoted to sugar factory manager. She lived in an area surrounded by cane fields and attended a small primary school in the countryside. For her Advanced Level examinations, she and another student undertook a detailed study of the cultivation of a sugar cane field, recording all operations from planting through to harvesting. It looked at the growth of the crop as well as the weed flora, and her overall examination results won her a national scholarship.
Dr Chandler worked at the Ministry of Agriculture and also the Caribbean Agricultural, Research and Development Institute (CARDI) for almost three decades. She did extensive research on onions to expand the growing season, by selecting a high yielding, disease-tolerant variety with a long shelf life. She also did considerable work on various root, fruit and vegetable crops like yams, melons, lettuce, ochroes and sweet peppers.
Dr. Chandler is known for her work on the production, handling and packaging of fresh produce in Barbados for international markets.
In 1997, she started her own consulting business, Horticultural Business Solutions Inc. She uses her extensive experience to increase the efficiency of individual growers and companies involved in food production, marketing and distribution.
She credits her parents’ good examples of discipline, industry and a good work ethic for her success. She assures students that pursuing careers in science and technology is rewarding. It inculcates discipline, practicality and logical thinking, which are useful in every facet of life.
Dr. Chandler was awarded the Queen’s College Association Award in 1985 and a gold medal from the Food and Agricultural Association (FAO) in 1984. She also received the Barbados Agriculture Society Award in 1984 and was the first woman to be awarded the Inter American Agricultural Award for Young professionals for the Antilles.
Dame Olga Lopes Seale, affectionately known as ‘Auntie Olga’ was a radio broadcaster who used her profession to help children in Guyana and Barbados.
Born in Guyana in December, 1918, she married a Barbadian, Dick Seale in 1939, and came to Barbados with her then young family in 1963.
She was the first woman broadcaster in Guyana where she worked for ‘Radio Demerara’ and it was there that her charity worked began. She founded the ‘Needy Children’s Fund first’ in Guyana and acquired the nick name “Auntie Olga”.
After settling in Barbados, Lope-Seale would join the then Barbados Rediffusion Services Limited now known as Starcom Network and she continued with helping children through her profession and community work.
She started the Needy Children’s Fund in Barbados and has helped thousands of children throughout the island and this resulted in her being awarded the ‘Member of the Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) in 1981 by the Government of Barbados and in 2005, she was made a ‘Dame of St. Andrew’.
Perhaps the most notable part of Auntie Olga’s charitable work was the attention she gave to each child. She visited children in their home environment, assessing their needs and the ways she could help improve their lives and she delivered hampers, food vouchers and clothing vouchers to them.
Lopes-Seale also focused on the education of children making it possible for many to attend school and she also tried to make them feel special and important as individuals. She held a Christmas party for the children every year and gave birthday gifts to many.
She garnered support from companies to donate funds and she got local organisations to collaborate on projects and communities to get behind her immensely successful fundraising events.
Over time the Fund in Barbados developed to enfold not only needy children, but also mentally and physically disabled kids and the elderly. It raised money for expensive medical operations and equipment that would help children to lead more normal lives. Her work with the elderly involved visiting them in their homes, supplying spectacles and again, wheelchairs, clothing and gifts. She wanted everyone to feel equal and included – testament to a big heart and a tremendous will to fight for others.
Lopes-Seale died in Barbados in 2011 at the age of 92.
Dr. SHIRIN HAQUE
“I will never forget flying in a helicopter over the volcano in Montserrat, filming for a documentary with the stench of sulfurous gases stinging our nostrils! Nor can I forget being told that I would never get any grants for Astronomy in the Caribbean, or be able to get a job here in this area. Not getting into Engineering as an undergraduate was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have always seen failure as navigating a person to the future they really belong to and where their major contributions are likely to be. At the University of Virginia, working toward my PhD in Astronomy, I realized that there were thousands in the developed world doing what I could do. In the Caribbean, I could make a difference. Ten years later, this has turned out to be true.” Dr. Shirin Haque
Dr Shirin Haque is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and she has a passion for learning and teaching and this led her to taking up the post as head of the Department of Physics at The University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine and she is the first woman to do so.
Born on 1st December, 1964 in Patna, India, she came to Trinidad with her parents at age 7 when her father, a plant virologist, was offered a position at UWI. She attended the St Joseph TML School and the St. Augustine Girls’ High School in Trinidad before studying for a Bachelor of Science in Physics at the University of the West Indies.
Her love for physics led her to completing a Mphil in Physics (Astronomy and a PhD in Physics (Astronomy) in association with the University of Virginia.
Dr. Haque’s distinguish academic achievements earned her the UWI Guardian Life Premium Teaching Award in 2002, the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Association of Atlantic Universities in 2004 and the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.
She is the co-founder of the Caribbean Institute of Astronomy (CARINA) and the Society for Physics Advancement Research and Collaboration (SPARC). She started an observational astronomy program at St Augustine, in collaboration with the University of Turku in Finland, and its success brought international attention to UWI.
A strong believer in the importance of education, Dr Haque has distinguished herself as a dynamic student-centred instructor and an outstanding role model, especially to young women. She was the first in the department to make her courses available online, and has introduced a new course in astronomy for non-science majors. She also conducts astronomy workshops for teachers, provides career guidance to secondary students, and gives public lectures in astronomy. She was the co-chair of the International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) held in Trinidad in 2009, with participants from 17 countries.
She is also working with universities in the USA, Canada and Finland on an astro biology study of the Pitch Lake and mud volcanoes in Trinidad. Astrobiology is the interdisciplinary study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. It encompasses the search for habitable environments. The local sites under study by Dr Haque’s team have an extreme environment for harboring life since, at the subsurface, there is no light or nutrition as we know it. The findings can provide insights into how life began and whether it can exist on planets with similar conditions. The study has generated much interest and has been featured by the BBC and Discovery Channel.
Science popularization is Dr. Haque’s forte with over 40 public lectures and numerous local and foreign popular science articles and television appearances. SUNY, Stony Brook dedicated a web page to her demo in Physics.
Dr Haque speaks and writes in the media on topics in astronomy, and has produced two science documentaries for television, “Adventures in Discovery” and “All is Number”, with a third underway entitled, “Losing Paradise”.
She also completed a MPhil in psychology, using wave technology and mathematical concepts to model psychological phenomena, e.g. how the impact of life events decays with time.
Dr Haque enjoys popular science writing, photography, long drives with music, and quilt making. She collects Kelly dolls, and loves cooking and spending time with her two daughters.
She fondly remembers as a young child looking at the moon with a pair of binoculars and being blown away by its beauty and today she advises young students to keep their childlike curiosity. “There is so much in the natural world just waiting to be discovered. Never lose your childlike curiosity and fascination with things.”
HER EXCELLENCY Dr. MARION WILLIAMS, PhD.
Dr. Marion Williams served as Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados from 1999 to 2009. She has worked in the area of economics and finance for most of her working life. She holds a PhD. from the University of Surrey and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of the West Indies. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers (FCIB) of the U.K., and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Dr. Williams was the first President and a founding member of the Barbados Institute of Banking and Finance. She is a former Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Center for Monetary Studies (CCMS). In 2006 Dr. Williams was the recipient of the Award of Honorary Fellow of the Caribbean Association of Banking and Financial Institutes (CABFI). She received a national honor of Gold Crown of Merit by the Government of Barbados in 2006.
She has represented the Bank at several meetings and conferences, both regionally and internationally; has published articles in local, regional and international journals, and has served on many advisory boards and committees. She is the author of three books “Liberalizing a Regulated Banking System: The Caribbean Case”, published by Avebury, “Managing Public Finances in a Small Developing Economy – The Case of Barbados”, published by Praeger, and “Strategic Re-positioning A Caribbean Perspective on Economic Policy Making”, published by the Central Bank of Barbados.
Dr. Williams is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Barbados at Geneva.
SENATOR, KERRYANN IFILL
“Full of firsts”: Senator Kerryann Ifill has created history in Barbados by becoming the first woman, first disabled person and the youngest person at the age of 38 to be elected to this role.
A graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and postgraduate student of Durham Business School, Senator Ifill began losing her sight at the age of four. This exceptional lady was the first blind person to complete her course of study and within three years, to honor a promise she made to herself.
She has never let blindness affect her life. “I look at life this way – you do what you are supposed to do and you do it the best way you can. If you happen to be blind, well, just find a way to do it. With being blind, I do not waste time complaining over my being blind… Blindness is a part of me. That is like saying, today I won’t be a woman. You are a woman all of the time. Yes, we have challenges to overcome as women but that does not mean that we have to stop being who we are. We are women, I am blind. That is part of it, so I do what I have to do,” is her pragmatic perspective.
Her life has been one of determination and dedication to excellence. She has pursued her career goals while working full time at the Barbados Council for the Disabled. Senator Ifill would like to see the Ratification of the Convention of the Rights for Persons with Disabilities come to fruition in Barbados. According to Kerryann – as she likes to be called – there must be more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. “People with disabilities are citizens, we are entitled to the rights like all citizens; one of those rights is the right to work and the right to contribute. We don’t have to be service recipients. We can be service providers as well.
NAOMIE MELANIE HARRIS
Naomie Melanie Harris (born 6 September 1976) is a British-born actress. She is best known for her starring role as Selena in 28 Days Later, her supporting turn as Tia Dalma/Calypsoian the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean films, and as Eve Moneypenny in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall.
Harris was born and brought up in London, and educated there at St Marylebone School. Her mother, Lisselle Kayla, is originally from Jamaica, and her father Winston is from Trinidad. They separated when she was a child, and she was raised by her mother. Her mother worked as a screenwriter on EastEnders. After graduating in 1998 from Pembroke College,Cambridge, with a degree in Social and Political Sciences, Harris trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Harris has appeared in television and film since she was nine, including a stint on the remake of the science fiction series The Tomorrow People. She became internationally well known in 2002 with her lead performance in Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later, opposite Cillian Murphy, In the same year, she starred in the television adaptation of Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.
Since then, Harris has been cast in supporting roles in big budget films, such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. She also did a comic turn in Michael Winterbottom’s well-regarded indie ensemble piece, A Cock and Bull Story, and appeared with Josh Hartnett in the 2008 release of August. She starred in Channel 4’s adaptation of the novel Poppy Shakespeare, which was first shown on 31 March 2008. She also appeared in BBC’s historical drama Small Island in December 2009.
She played Elizabeth Lavenza in Danny Boyle’s stage production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the National Theatre from 22 February to 2 May 2011. She plays the lead role in The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick, which premiered on 18 May 2011 in the Seattle International Film Festival.
Harris co-starred in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall, playing Eve Moneypenny. She is the first black actress to play Moneypenny. In 2012, Harris was the voiceover for the Boss Nuit Pour Femme advert starring actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Harris will portray Winnie Mandela in the upcoming biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, based on the book of the same name, opposite actor Idris Elba. The film will be released on 29 November 2013.